Utility Week

Utility Week 1st November 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 26 of 31

Customers This week Npower finishes bottom of the Uswitch satisfaction poll for the sixth consecutive year Npower ranked worst by customers again Npower has finished bottom of the Uswitch customer satisfaction poll for the sixth consecutive year. Npower had a customer satisfaction rating of 57 per cent Only 67% of customers satisfied with the big six – up from 52 per cent last year. The energy supplier also finished bottom in 11 out of 12 categories; customers would be the least likely to recommend it to a friend (38 per cent); said it offered the poorest value for money (39 per cent); and that it had the worst customer service (44 per cent). Npower chief executive Paul Massara said: "We know we haven't always got things right this year – we've had some challenges with a new computer system and I'd like to apologise to any customers who feel we haven't given them the service that they deserve." Eon remained Britain's favourite supplier for the second year in a row, with an overall satisfaction score of 71 per cent, finishing narrowly ahead of EDF Energy, which recorded a 70.7 per cent satisfaction rate. EDF Energy saw its score increase by 5.6 percentage points, and jumped from fourth to second. SSE, which fell from second to third for overall customer satisfaction, with a rating of 70 per cent, retained top spot for the tenth year in a row for customer service. Uswitch director of consumer policy Ann Robinson said: "Last year's focus on putting customers first seems to have already started running out of steam. "A year-on-year improvement of less than 1 per cent is disappointing to say the least. With 67 per cent of customers satisfied with the big six, there is clearly still a long way to go." MB Water Metering will be key to reducing leakage Water metering will be instrumental in reducing leakage, according to Phil Bailey, customer valuation strategy manager at Thames Water. Speaking at the Water UK annual leakage conference in Birmingham last week, he said there was "very broad agreement" among customers that water metering was a good idea in principle, but in practice "it becomes more polarised". "There is definitely a hardline segment that are very anti [metering], who just don't accept the commodification of water," he said. While Bailey said Thames would like to move towards individual metering for households, he told Utility Week that universal metering in the UK water industry was "decades off". Energy Decc awards £5m in RHPP second round Social landlords across the UK have been awarded a total of £5 million to install more renewable heating into tenants' homes. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has awarded 57 social housing authorities the money from the second round of this year's Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) competition. Climate change minister Greg Barker said: "Renewable heating kit like heat pumps and biomass boilers can help keep homes warm and bills down, so it's great that social landlords will be getting cash to help get over 2,100 renewable heating technologies into the homes of their tenants." The bids were reviewed by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) and assessed by a panel chaired by Decc. The projects will need to be completed and claims made to the EST by 30 June 2014. Energy Scottish Power is the latest to hike prices Scottish Power has become the latest energy supplier to announce a price increase. The average dual fuel bill from the supplier will rise by 8.6 per cent (£113) from 6 December. Prices of gas will rise by an average 8.5 per cent and electricity by an average 9 per cent. Scottish Power blamed increases in wholesale energy costs, increased transmission and distribution charges, and additional costs to meet the government's environmental and social schemes. Scottish Power Retail and Generation chief executive Neil Clitheroe said: "The cost of purchasing and delivering energy to homes across Britain has risen significantly this year." I am the customer Andrew Bainbridge Doubts over whether the lights will stay on combined with the belief that energy inflation is now a threat to future business make sorry reading. Rather than counting on gas and electricity to be both readily available and at reasonable cost to aid our recovery, it seems that uncertainties over our energy future may well be having a detrimental effect. Much has been said about the dangers of carbon leakage and loss of jobs in energy inten- "Energy inflation poses a big threat to competitiveness" sive industries. That government has been moved to provide an element of relief, even in these austere times, confirms the danger of these jobs going elsewhere to no effect on global emissions. A recent survey of businesses by the MEUC shows that over 90 per cent of respondents believe energy inflation poses a major threat to business competitiveness. So where does this leave the great majority of commercial and industrial businesses not covered by this highly selective scheme for the energy intensives? Nearly three-quarters say the extra cost, for example, from the introduction of the carbon floor price, will need either to be passed on in higher prices or absorbed internally. The MEUC is very concerned about the new guaranteed strike prices on offer to encourage investment in low-carbon generation. Most range from £100£150 per MWh as against the current wholesale market rate of £50-60. Customers will be paying the difference through higher prices, on top of the vagaries of the wholesale markets. Andrew Bainbridge, chairman MEUC UTILITY WEEK | 1st - 7th November 2013 | 27

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